Archive for February 28th, 2010

by jhwygirl

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown takes on free-marketeers and the lack of a moral compass inherent in an unregulated economy in a guest column this weekend in London’s The Guardian.

Brown sums up well the source of political anger boiling today. Funny how his words can apply both here in American and there in the United Kingdom. Greed, to be sure, has had its impact worldwide:

The public outcry that followed the two major crises of the past year was driven by moral outrage. The anger was not primarily provoked by breaches of the law; instead it was in response to the violation of an unwritten ethical code that should guide us in our daily lives. The demand now is that both the global financial system and the domestic political system should be brought into closer alignment with the values held by most people across the country.

This kind of stuff should cross party lines, no? Or maybe I’m still too naive.

As we have discovered to our cost, without values to guide them, free markets reduce all relationships to transactions, all motivations to self-interest. So, unbridled and untrammelled, they become the enemy of the good society. The truth is that the virtues that make society flourish – hard work, taking responsibility, being honest, enterprising and fair – come not from market forces but from our hearts. And we should be optimistic, for they are nurtured every day in families and schools, and in businesses and communities.

…Our mission is to support the active citizen, the empowering community and the enabling state: to forge a nation of fairness where empowered citizens bring to civic and public life high moral and ethical standards.

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by jhwygirl

I missed this one, but came across it over the weekend. It is an editorial written by Laura Lundquist, a non-traditional student working on her master’s degree in journalism at the University of Montana. It’s not just an opinion piece – she did a bit of research going back to Rep. Denny Rehberg’s voting record and points out:

Rehberg was first elected in 2000, entering Washington politics at the same time as that other financial wiz, George W. They inherited a federal budget that had been running surpluses and wound up adding more than $4 trillion to the national debt. Then they left us with the economic mess we have now.

Where was Rehberg’s crusading call then?

It might have been stifled by all the shouts of “yea” he made when voting for appropriations. Rehberg’s “yea” votes far out-numbered his “nay” votes from 2001 through 2006 on budget issues. For example, in 2005, one of his more negative years, three of his 37 votes were “nay.” He barely questioned a single dollar being spent or a single tax cut.

She notes a reversing trend in 2007 when Democrats took control of congress, where he switches to only supporting appropriations bills that also include tax cuts:

Then, suddenly the trend reversed in 2007. Did this coincide with Rehberg having a sudden economic epiphany? A more likely explanation is that the Democrats gained control of the House in 2007. Since that point, at least half of his votes have been against. Now in his contrarian mode, he supports budget bills dealing only with tax cuts, including the $152 billion 2008 Stimulus Plan, and agriculture appropriations, so as not to anger his primary supporters, Montana’s farmers and ranchers. But if he is re-elected and if, at some point, the Republicans regain control, my guess is that suddenly “yea” will be his catch phrase again, even if it means greater deficits.

And how are those tax cuts working out for ya’, Denny? The funny thing is that by his black-and-white thinking, we should just eliminate all taxes all together and this country would run itself. There’s never any rhyme or reason to the conservative call for tax cuts, it’s just tax cuts tax cuts tax cuts.

Lundquist explains the lack of logic behind Rep. Denny Rehberg’s recent call for more tax cuts:

Here, let me explain: Cutting taxes may help the economy but doesn’t reduce the deficit. Taxes are income for the government. Reducing taxes reduces the government’s income. How is the government supposed to control the deficit with less money when it can’t even do it with the money it has? If you couldn’t pay your rent with your current income, you’d be crazy to request fewer hours.

Ms. Lunquist has all kinds of goodies tucked into her well-researched op-ed. Be sure to check out and read the whole thing.

Our illustrious Representative Denny Rehberg? He might do best to take a little Economics 101. I’m thinking the Billings campus of UM might have one available for him.

Or maybe at least a Billings staffer that can screen Rehberg’s emails before they go out and make him look foolish.




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